Mrs. Almira Holsclaw, eighty-nine years old,
died Thursday, October 8th (1931), at the home of her granddaughter Mrs. Homer
Bullard west of this city.Funeral services
were held at the FirstBaptistChurch
in this city Saturday, conducted by the Rev. W. H. Dillard.The burial took place in the VawterCemetery.
Mrs. Holsclaw was the daughter of
George and Frances king and was born in JenningsCountyApril 10, 1842.She was married to William T. Holsclaw and
all of their married life was spent in the Deer Creek neighborhood in JenningsCounty.Mr. Holsclaw died about a year ago and since that time Mrs. Holsclaw has
made her home with relatives.She is
survived by five children: Mrs. Bertha Searles, Spokane, Wash. Harry Holsclaw, Auburn,
California; Esra Holsclaw of near Franklin, Mrs. Edwin Carson, of near Seymour;
and Mrs. Oscar Beeman, North Vernon Route 5.She is also survived by twenty-nine grandchildren, nineteen
Great-grandchildren, and four great-great-grandchildren and by one brother,
Elvin King of Lincoln, Nebraska.She was a faithful member of the BaptistChurch
and was a woman of sterling qualities of character, respected by all who knew
I'd have to say Almira is my favorite ancestor, if you can have such a thing. She is my great-great-great grandmother. She wrote a short memoir of growing up in southern Indiana, of which I have a copy (you can read an excerpt here: http://bit.ly/1A4qLa4). My grandmother, Mary Holsclaw Andrews, remembers visiting her when very young, she writes: “William
and Almira Holsclaw lived in a ‘little house on the prairie’ type house in North Vernon, Indiana.
They had no electricity. They had a pedal organ. The bedroom was very small; it
was off the living room. It had a built in featherbed bunk bed. She had a
pillow filled with pine needles in the parlor; it had a very strong smell that
made me sick! The dining room was the biggest room in the house. Outside the
back door, several feet to the right was a little hill with a chicken coop.” My favorite line from Almira's memoir is in my book: "I can see my life like a pattern woven in with the lives of so many others. It seems, as I look at it from here, now that it is so nearly finished, that there is plenty of brightness to offset the dark, gloomy part of my weaving."
I can feel her impact even today- her optimistic outlook on life, the impact she made on her descendants, and "the sterling qualities of her character" have been passed down. She concludes her memoir with this, "And so my prayer is, may war be outlawed from the land. May peace and joy and gladness come to take its place."
I've always loved James Whitcomb Riley. Hoosiers know him best. How many of us have climbed the hill at Crown Hill Cemetery to put pennies on his grave? Riley Children's Hospital in downtown Indianapolis is named after him, and has saved countless lives. After all, children loved him. Most of us know his famous line, "er the gobble-uns 'll git you ef you don't watch out!" His poems were always written in Hoosier dialect, which has really helped me be able to write books set in historic Indiana. So I was pretty excited when I found this book in my grandma's house. It belonged to my great-great grandfather, Elmer K. Oder.
Eva is my 7th great-grandmother. I first learned about her story from an oral history passed down to my grandfather. He told me one of our ancestors had been captured by Indians. The story had always fascinated me, but I could find nothing to substantiate it, beyond word of mouth. Until I was sent a history of the Caylor family by a relative, but it did not give the full name of my ancestor, only a few details:
"The life of his (Johannes Kohler/Caylor) grandmother on his mother's side, whose name was Kinzie, was as romantic as are some of the characters of Cooper. When she was a girl about six years of age and living in Virginia, her father and mother left her and a younger brother and a baby in the house while they went out a short distance to pull flax. During the parents' absence a party of Indians came to the house after demolishing its contents took the children and started for their camp. The parents and neighbors took the trail and found the baby with its head crushed against a tree. They followed the Indians for some time but losing their trail were compelled to return home, knowing that their other two children were either captives or had been killed. Ten years passed and some friendly Indians who visited the place told about knowing of a white girl who was with another tribe and the father being hopeful that it was his daughter offered the peaceful natives a handsome reward if they would secure the girl for him. They did and a large crowd of citizens were present when the girl was brought into the community, but she immediately knew her father from them."
Armed with knowing this mystery ancestor was from the Caylor branch of my tree, and her last name was Kinzie, I hit Ancestry.com and did some searching. It didn't take me long to find her: Eva Wampler. She was from a Dutch family, and was born in 1739 in Pennsylvania or Virginia, making her abduction in the mid to late 1740s. I then did some google searching of her name, and another version of her story surfaced. It said she was indeed left alone with her siblings in the cabin, around 7 years old. She was inconsolable and would not eat, so the Indians had her feed sweet cakes to the "papooses" and she was overcome with hunger and finished off the cakes. She was adopted by the tribe and became a favorite of the chief, and around age 14 was promised to be his bride. But it was about that time that the U.S. government settled with the Indians and offered rewards for settlers' children to be returned, and she was stolen away from her tribe. When she returned to her family she couldn't understand a word of English. They tried to no avail, but finally encircled her and sang an old familiar hymn, which she was able to sing along to, but still could not speak English. Until one day she was out with her father who was building a fence. She stood there watching him, and as he was going for another rail suddenly blurted out, "I will fetch that rail!" And after that her silence was broken.
Eva married to Henry Kinsey when she was around 23, and had six children with him. They moved to Ohio territory around 1800, and there she lived the remainder of her days. I don't know much more about Eva, and I wish I did. It would be interesting to hear her account of her capture and life with the Indians, but it is amazing nonetheless that 200 some years later, my grandfather heard of her story. Keep those stories alive, and history will be all the more colorful. Maybe some day I can write more of her story.
If you haven't seen it, here's the video trailer for Going over Home, thanks to my brother, Nicholas Andrews. Going over Home is a historical fantasy with a genealogy theme, set in present and pioneer Indiana. Available on Amazon.com and at Conner Prairie Interactive History Park and Johnson County Museum of History!
It all started with Conner Prairie. Ever been there? It's a living history museum in Fishers, Indiana. It's has an 1836 village centered around the William Conner home, which was built overlooking the White River. In fact, it was in that very home that it was decided that the little hamlet of Indianapolis would become the new state capitol.
Indiana is chockfull of history. Mounds State Park is another one if you're interested in prehistoric Native American history. Koteewi Park in Strawtown is another, as is River Road Park in Carmel. Spring Mill State Park has a little pioneer village with a working mill that was built almost 200 years ago in 1817. I just bought cornmeal there the other day when we were there camping. If you're a pioneer history nerd like I am, Indiana is a must visit.
William Conner homeLog cabin at Conner Prairie
1817 mill at Spring Mill State Park
But I think the real reason I find Indiana history so enthralling is because I am a part of it. My life is intricately tied in with many of my ancestors who came here so long ago. Take Jesse Vawter, who came around 1803 - one of the earliest Baptist preachers in the territory. He baptized over 800 people. Almira King Holsclaw is another; she wrote a short detailed memoir about her life growing up in southern Indiana. John and Mary Ellen Raridan Mulry came to Indianapolis in 1868 almost straight from Ireland. Patrick Garrity, an Irish potato famine immigrant, came to Wayne County. Elias Caylor was one of the earliest preachers in Hamilton County. The list goes on.
William and Almira King Holsclaw
So it was only natural that I set Going over Home and the entire series following it in Indiana. They say you should write what you know, and with so many ancestors' stories and resources at my fingertips, it was a natural, cathartic adventure. I am writing Going over Jordan now, which is set entirely in the 1840s in southern Indiana, and I am living it all over again.
Cabin at Spring Mill State ParkCabin on the front cover of Going over Home
I love the writer's life, and the genealogist's life. What story do you have to tell?